Israeli rabbi withdraws support for accused child sex abuser Malka Leifer
The Sydney Morning Herald
12 March 2018
An Israeli rabbi has withdrawn his support for a former Melbourne school principal who is accused of child sex abuse to be released on house arrest under his supervision.
Victorian police are seeking the extradition of Malka Leifer, 54, to Australia to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse. She was arrested in Israel in February.
Leifer is the former principal of the ultra-Orthodox Adass girls' school in Elsternwick in Melbourne's south-east.
Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman had offered to take care of Leifer if she was granted home detention by Israel's Supreme Court.
"Last night, I notified the courts that I am completely withdrawing my involvement in the case of Malka Leifer, and my recommendation that she be placed under house arrest with my supervision," Rabbi Grossman said in a statement released on Monday.
The rabbi decided to end his involvement in the case after realising his intervention had been interpreted as supporting an attempt for Leifer to avoid trial, according to the statement from Rabbi Grossman Enterprise.
''Rabbi Grossman has dedicated his life to protecting the weak, especially children, and sees child abuse as the worst of all injustices. The Rabbi recognises the pain and suffering of the victims of sexual assault and has treated them with dedication and care for many years,'' the statement said.
Under the plan, Leifer would have been monitored by two supervisors in the northern Israeli town of Migdal Haemek under the custody of Grossman, the town’s chief rabbi.
Grossman, the recipient of the 2004 Israel Prize, the country's highest cultural honour, had argued to a court last week for the accused former principal of Elsternwick's school to be freed while she fights extradition to Australia.
“It would be a humiliation for Ms Leifer to remain in custody,” he had said, promising that if she left the house “for even a second, we will take her straight to the police immediately” as a matter of his personal responsibility.
The move had angered and shocked Leifer's alleged victims.
One of Leifers' former students and alleged victim Dassi Erlich had slammed the ruling as "an outrageous travesty of justice".
''An official sign-off on the psychiatrist's report was requested three times by the court. The report remains unsigned. What is the reason for this absolute failure of procedure?,'' Erlich had said in a media statement.
Erlich also said the unrestricted nature of Leifer's release was ''appalling and takes away our hope and trust in a justice system meant to protect the vulnerable''.
A lower court had granted Leifer to be released to home detention, a decision the prosecution has appealed.
Leifer has been ordered to stay in police custody in a medical facility while the Supreme Court considers the prosecution's appeal.
Her extradition is the subject of a separate court case.
Israeli prosecutors say she is feigning mental illness to avoid extradition.
Manny Waks, an advocate for Kol v'Oz, a Jewish organisation combating child sex abuse, said Grossman should also apologise to Leifer's alleged victims "for compounding their pain and suffering as a direct result of his words and actions."
Originally published at The Sydney Morning Herald.